In 2016, Wagonex was created, the UK’s first car subscription company with one big ambition: to make car ownership fair, flexible, and fun.
Toby Kernon, Wagonex Founder, and CEO created the business after years of frustration with car ownership,
Having owned, leased or contract-hired more than 20 cars and suffered the pain involved, I thought there had to be another way.
This was a huge problem. Owning a car has its advantages but for many people it’s a long term burden with very few alternatives.
You pay thousands of pounds in upfront fees for a car you’ll most likely get bored of within a year, and every year your running costs go up and the value of the car goes down.
Wagonex wanted to change that. We scrapped the long term commitment for flexible monthly subscriptions, and instead of paying thousands of pounds to get the car, you pay a comparably small refundable deposit.
Insurance, road tax, breakdown cover, maintenance, and servicing are all part of the subscription package, so that our subscribers have everything they need in one simple monthly payment.
However, a brilliant idea needs strong foundations to become a successful business.
Wagonex’s Founder had this to say about the early days:
Creating partnerships with automotive brands was a challenge, as we introduced a new opportunity to them with a flexible subscription model
After months of pitches and follow ups, Toby had the basis of the Wagonex platform – utilising integrated payments, affordable embedded insurance, and first class customer service.
Wagonex needed to be part of a supportive ecosystem with access to the best talent and an office that they could feel comfortable in, and chose South Wales as the perfect landing ground for Wagonex.
Toby then met up with the Development Bank of Wales,
We got to know the Development Bank of Wales well before, during, and after our move to Wales. They completely supported us in creating local jobs. In Cardiff, you aren’t treated like any other company, you are valued and supported.
Following these discussions the Development Bank of Wales and Wagonex felt they were a great fit for each other, and decided to become partners.
Dr Richard Thompson, Senior Investment Executive in the Development Bank’s technology ventures had this to say about Wagonex moving to Wales,
Following an introduction by the Welsh Government I’ve worked with Toby for some time to attract this exciting business to set up its headquarters in Wales.
Wagonex is working with some of the world’s biggest car manufacturers and as in other sectors subscription should have an important part to play in a rapidly changing world where consumers expect speedy access to products.
Toby considered many places but decided on Wales because it was an opportunity he felt couldn’t be missed, with a flourishing fintech talent pool, and lots of room to grow our business.
Wagonex found its first Welsh office space in Tramshed Tech, Cardiff’s vibrant startup hub, and hired 3 of the best employees in South Wales, drawing alumni from hugely successful Welsh companies such as GoCompare.
South Wales became the home of Wagonex from that day onwards.
Since then, our marketplace is thriving, with subscribers choosing flexibility over long term contracts, and our list of partners is growing with the likes of Cupra, Volkswagen, Renault Trucks and mycardirect all part of it.
Wagonex has now grown several times over, and moved our office to Tec Marina in Penarth with plans to expand in North and South America, UAE, and across Europe.
None of this would have been possible without the support networks that Wales offers. From Fintech Wales and their Foundry Accelerator to the support of the Development Bank of Wales.
This just goes to show what is being built here, and we’re grateful to be part of a startup and scaleup hub that attracts businesses from around the world and brings them to Wales.
Sarah Williams-Gardner, CEO and Founder of Fintech Wales, also founding member of Starlink Bank had this to say about Wales’ growing Fintech sector:
Fintech Wales has community and collaboration at its heart. We act as a voice for the Fintech sector in Wales and are passionate about establishing Wales as globally recognised as a Fintech hub of excellence. Having launched our Fintech Foundry, a no equity accelerator program in the 2nd half of 2021 we were delighted to have Wagonex join this program. Wagonex is a great example of Wales’s next generation of Fintech Start-ups. As a member of the first foundry cohort, we were able to establish partnership opportunities, investment introductions and Trade mission inclusion.
From the first day we arrived in Wales, the local ecosystem made our transition so much easier, and gave us the kind of support that you don’t get elsewhere.
Wales is building a future that will not only provide prosperous jobs for Welsh people, but give businesses a platform to start, and scale, their business globally.
Wagonex is a prime example of that, and we will continue to Scale in Wales.